We are progressing nicely with our birch bark canoe build, we have collected spruce root for the stitching and processed a lot of it. Now it was time to collect the big pieces of bark for the canoe. Here’s April and Jarrod Stone Dahl heading off into the woods. April makes the ash splint pack baskets and this one is 15 years old, they are beautiful. The folding ladder is needed because we are peeling the trees without felling them. April is a tribal member of the Ojibway so has rights to harvest bark in the forest but not to fell trees. The first thing to do after scouting out likely trees is to cut a small patch of bark and test it. It should peel well, it should be a good thickness, not too thin or thick, it should not delaminate when you bend it at the edge and when you bend it in both directions it should not split at the lenticels.
this shows the thickness
This bark came from a tree that at a glance looked great, tall broad and clean looking bark but it did not peel well so we rejected it and moved on.Having chosen a tree we go up the ladder and score down the bark with a knife.
Then the knife levers up the corner of the bark and we gradually ease it way from the tree. Jarrod and I are using a taal pole to put even pressure on all the way up the tree. The bug nets were a necessity, there were masses of mossies. We took some video of this process which we will post in a few days when we have access to fast wifi.Here is the first piece nearly free, we just reposition the ladder to ensure a good grip as the bark comes free.and here we are with my first ever piece of canoe quality bark, it is quite a feeling.This is what it looked like on the ground this piece is good enough for the single large panel that forms the base of the canoe.The bark is very precious so we handle it very carefully to ensure it does not rip as we bring it down the ladder, then it’s rolled up.We still need several more pieces for the other panels of the canoe. Here is the second tree.one last tree for smaller panels, this one really popped off.The freshly peeled trees are really very beautiful
April made some offerings of tobacco to the spirit of the trees in thanks.
and then we carried everything out of the forrestThree rolls of priceless canoe quality bark. Next week is building time, it is getting exciting!